I have a friend that acts as though the world is out to get him. He simply complains all of the time and never seems to be genuinely happy. He is a good guy, but he simply becomes a drain after a while. I have taken to making fun of his antics and that seems to be a good approach. It makes him laugh a little and then he seems to let up some. Still, I can only hang out with him in small doses.
There is a reason we like to spend time with positive people. But have you ever been around someone who is too positive? You know…that really cheery girl who is so bubbly you just wish she would sit down and shut up for one minute. Just one minute, is that too much to ask? I have a friend like that, too.
Usually we ask people if they are an optimist or a pessimist. I think I am a realist, a moderate. Is the glass half full or half empty. I say it is both, it just depends on whether you are measuring water or air.
Being a moderate is important for leadership. As leaders we have to be able to see both sides of the story. To play on the edge of the fence. Consider these:
- We must be able to empathise with people and help them empathise with others. We also have to be able to separate ourselves emotionally if the situation calls for it and do the difficult thing.
- We must be able to analyse data and make decisions. We have to be able to let others make decisions and help them when they fail.
- We have to see the potential for our business and create the motivation to reach it. We must anticipate the risks on the horizon and plan accordingly for the worst.
- We must encourage teamwork and fair play. We need to appreciate the individual and understand selfish motivations.
- We must take charge and lead by example. We must know when to lead from the back of the pack and let others take the credit.
I don’t know how a pure optimist or pessimist could do all of this. That is not to say leaders do not have a tendency. There have been many paranoid leaders that have done great things along with just as many visionaries that inspired thousands of people. But leadership requires the ability to play in both fields. While we may naturally tend to one way or the other, we must know when to lean against that natural reaction and do what is needed, not what is comfortable.
A Story on Extremism
When I was a teenager I was dating a girl who went to a different church than my family. I spent some time at her church to get to know her and some of her friends a little better. One day at Sunday School the teacher was talking about alcohol abuse. The gist of the discussion was that alcohol was evil and that it was a sin to consume alcohol, period. I didn’t really understand the message because I knew several adults that consumed alcohol and were very good people. So asked for clarification.
“So even if you have a glass of wine with dinner it is a sin?” I asked.
“That’s right,” the instructor responded.
“So why did Jesus turn water into wine?” I continued.
“To prove a point,” was the answer.
“But Jesus could have turned the water into juice, or milk, or anything. He chose to turn it into wine. And didn’t Jesus and the disciples drink wine at the last supper? Didn’t wine symbolize the blood of Christ?” Yeah, I got her on this one.
“You need to just be quiet,” was the only thing she said in reply.
You can’t make this stuff up.